Gathering Crowds like Elvis

As I reflect on my childhood and remember watching the old Elvis Presley movies after school. I think back to how many of his movies required Elvis to draw attention to an event. Elvis would call for a crowd to gather — He would start singing, and people crowded around. Many times I feel I have recreated that Elvis moment. Not by singing, but by balloon entertaining. I would strap on my balloon apron, inflate a four-foot balloon and start twisting while interacting with nearby people. Bam! The next thing I know, I have people gathering around me engaging in conversation, watching, and listening to my comedic balloon entertaining.

Like a good entertainer, I thrive on this, and my enthusiastic energy can electrify a crowd making it a magical experience. Which is great until you have to leave?  Elvis would tell everyone that the event was starting in the movies, and the crowd quickly dispersed only if that was so easy.  As a skilled promotional entertainer, drawing the crowds is not the problem; getting people to disperse when the event is over is challenging.  I have tried to designate people as the line closer, have signs and vests customized to inform gathers that the event is over, and thank them for attending, but it doesn’t work to no avail.  People still gather.

Watching Obama’s acceptance speech made me think more about gathering crowds.  Maybe Obama’s approach will work.  Suppose you can gather a group hours before an event, make them stand huddled outside next to each other, eliminate the balloon decorations, and give them only their thoughts to keep themselves entertained. In that case, this will keep them mentally and physically starved for the event.  You come in, do your thing, and off you go. The crowd is physically and emotionally drained and peacefully dispersed.  But this is an unrealistic comparison. Elvis was a superstar in the movies;  Obama is a future President with secret security and handlers to make sure the event runs smoothly and that he looks good in the process; Magical Balloon-dude Dale is just a comedic balloon entertainer who deals with the fans one-on-one and politely informs people, “Sorry, all done. Thank you for coming”.  So with that said… Sorry all done. Thank you for coming.

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